By Muftau Ogunyemi
Lawyers in the Ondo State Ministry of Justice have embarked on an industrial action due to what they call financial constraints and perceived stifling conditions of service in the state.
The lawyers, under the aegis of the state chapter of the Law Officers Association of Nigeria (LOAN), described the condition to which they were being subjected as ‘despicable and deplorable’.
The state Chairman of LOAN, Mr Babatunde Falodun, told newsmen on Monday in Akure that the decision to embark on industrial action was taken at a meeting of the law officers held on Nov. 6. Falodun said that the conditions to which law officers had been subjected in the last 10 years had worsened in recent time.
He said that members had, in the past, had the hope that their ‘wretched and degraded conditions’ would be ameliorated by the state government, adding that several appeals, both formally and informally, had been made to state government without any positive response.
“Unfortunately, it has got to a vile situation where legal officers in the ministry now commute to court on commercial motorcycles at their personal expenses and risk of their lives.
“We have suffered untold hardship owing to lack of vehicles to move us to court, non-provision of funds for state witnesses to testify in court, insufficient office space, ill-equipped law library and stunted career progression due to non-appointment as judges and permanent secretary. We also suffered deplorable conditions of existing offices, late payment of lawyers’ practicing fees and ultimately, the slashing and non-payment of our outfit/ robe allowance.
“To this end and until our demands are met, all members of LOAN in the Ondo State Ministry of Justice have resolved that from Nov. 9, we will withdraw our legal services from court attendance and sundry services. We will be doing this by observing a work-to-rule as a result of the constraints of funds and abysmal conditions of services,” he said.
Falodun called for an end to deplorable working conditions and the immediate rehabilitation of dilapidated offices as well as the provision of new office spaces to accommodate law officers in the state.